"Northwest Airlines ISO Pops Series No. 5

Hilbert Circle Theatre

Feb. 9-11

The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s concert “Romance by Request,” a musical “Be My Valentine,” was bookended by Shakespeare: It opened with Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March” from a Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op. 61, and closed with an excerpt from Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, Overture Fantasy.

Pops conductor Jack Everly declared the latter “the most romantic classical piece,” despite the sadness surrounding the story. True love, according to Everly, inspires great music. Audience members, invited during previous concerts to request their favorite romantic works, suggested pieces that have “worked” for them over 25, 50 and 55-plus years of marriage to the same person, according to a highly unofficial poll.

Everly added his own wryness by questioning the mantra from Love Story — “True love is never having to say you’re sorry” — yet he arranged, conducted and played with passion Francis Lai’s theme from the film.

Soprano Sara Hagstrom and mezzo Katherine Korsak brought luscious harmony to the “Flower Duet” from Delibes star-crossed-lovers opera Lakme.

Hagstrom equally delivered with beauty “Un bel di” from Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, an abiding profession of love that Everly said is “one of the saddest arias ever written, but deserving of a Valentine event.” Hagstrom “requested” Porter’s “So in Love” from Kiss Me Kate so she could sing Everly’s lilting arrangement.

Vocalist Brian DuPrey lent a romantic tempo to Porter’s “I’ve Go You Under My Skin” from Born to Dance. ISO soloists and sections played a seductive Begin the Beguine arrangement by Ralph Hermann.

Violinist Philip Palermo further turned up the heat with Carlos Gardel’s tantalizing Tango! Pianist Sylvia Scott portrayed Rachmaninoff’s Andante cantabile from Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43 in a rainbow-nuanced interpretation.

Also represented were Rodgers, Lennon & McCartney, Mancini, Lehar, Gershwin and Ortolani-Oliviero in a mostly “classical” yet delightfully satisfying Pops concert.

Brian DuPrey entertained in a café setting in the lobby following the concert.